If you have ever been to NYC’s Italian restaurant Carbone then you have definitely had their spicy rigatoni. You can’t make the trip without ordering it. At Carbone, the house-made rigatoni is tossed in a chunky, spicy bright orange sauce the color of the Hermés logo; and it tastes just as luxurious.
While some refer to it as a vodka sauce, it’s more than that (plus Carbone doesn’t actually use vodka in their sauce) – it’s different than other vodka sauces that I’ve had and is definitely spicier. It’s more similar to a creamy arrabiata sauce.
Restaurant’s like Los Angeles hot spot Jon + Vinny’s have a similar spicy fusili dish where a similar sauce is served pureed until smooth before it’s tossed with the pasta. Pro tip: you can have them add burrata to theirs! Try it at home with this recipe.
I’ve been to the restaurant’s location in Las Vegas twice and since there isn’t one in Los Angeles, and after eating there, I knew that I had to find a way to recreate a similar version of the recipe to satiate my carb cravings. Watch a how-to video for my version of the Carbone spicy rigatoni recipe here.
My personal mission was to create a comparable dupe sauce to the one I found myself craving. The base of the sauce is an onion soubise, an easy, three-ingredient French sauce. The onions are cooked over a long period of time at a low heat until they become tender and flavorful. Onion soubise is classically puréed with cream as an accompaniment to meat such as a seared steak or roast chicken.
The goal isn’t to put color on the onions but to coax out the flavor so don’t try to rush it. Make the onion mixture a few days ahead of time and reheat when needed in order to minimize the day of prep.
While they are becoming more widely available (Trader Joe’s Bomba sauce is a good substitute) if you can’t track down calabrian chili paste then I’d recommend finely chopping fire roasted red peppers and stirring them together with crushed red pepper flakes to form a paste. It won’t have the exact same flavor but it will do in a pinch. If you can’t find calabrian chili paste at your local store I’d recommend ordering a jar from Williams Sonoma or Amazon.
Yes! Slowly cooking them coaxes out the subtle, sweet onion flavor and turns it into a buttery, jam-like consistency. It mellows the harsh flavor of onions. You don’t want caramelized onions for this.
No! You want this sauce to bind to the noodles – this is aided by the addition of the pasta water. Adding oil when cooking the noodles will make them slippery and the sauce won’t stick as well.
It’s more of a creamy arrabbiata sauce. Vodka sauce such as this one here don’t typically have whole tomatoes, the base of the sauce is just tomato paste and cream flavored by shallots, a touch of vodka and red pepper. This sauce gets it’s flavor from the slowly simmered onions while the spice comes from the Calabrian chilies and red pepper flakes.
Yes! If you like a creamier, silky sauce, then throw all or half the sauce into the blender.
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